Friday, May 13, 2005
A triumph for unreason
For years, many feminists have been arguing that a fault with politics is that it is too rational and should be more emotional. They associate rationality and logic with masculinity and wish to relocate political discourse in a world of "feelings".
Well, now they've got their way. The BBC and the Guardian both report today that Britain is in the grip of a mumps epidemic. This epidemic is a direct consequence of an emotional campaign.
In my posting on 4th November, I remarked on the risk of an epidemic due to the irrational campaign against the MMR vaccine. Numerous studies have shown that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism or other risks. That has not stopped the anti-MMR pressure group continuing to make unfounded claims and scaring parents into not immunising their children.
This epidemic was predictable and entirely preventable. The fact that it has occurred shows that politicians and other opinion leaders are nowadays all too ready to cave in to sentimental and irrational pressure.
Although many political issues arouse intense feelings, the solution is never to 'emote' about them. Political solutions - which usually boil down to decisions about the allocation of scarce resources - should be based on cool, moral and rational judgements.
In this age of emotional incontinence, however, there are many people who would rather we based our decision-making on "getting in touch with our feelings". They have created a moral climate in which feelings can trump facts. I hope they're satisfied.
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